Kansas Sportswriter’s “Suicide Website” Is a Troubling Template for 21st-Century Suicide Notes

Speaking generally, Suicide is a hideously tragic and hurtful act that Manley Martin, a former 60-year-old sports writer and statistician from Star City, Kansas, seems to have been vaguely aware of, at least to some extent, but he left behind a meticulously detailed website explaining virtually every aspect of his decision.

He desperately wanted to justify his own life and death to the world, but also wanted to confront the public on a large scale. Manley, for whom confronting his family and friends with his death was not enough, is mostly only known within a small circle of loved ones and authorities. Some of his notes are cryptic, some apologetic, and some vengeful. Furthermore, in the United States, more than 100 people die by suicide on an average day, leaving a significant portion of their relatives and friends devastated. Although Manley is not particularly noteworthy, his case is interesting because he intentionally used technology to break down the typically private wall that surrounds suicides. Additionally, he is semi-public figure, credited with popularizing the NBA’s standard efficiency rating, which is why his use of technology is significant.

It was his 60th birthday. He killed himself in front of a police station in Overland Park, according to the Star City Kansas. According to his website, he built a sprawling website worth five years of prepaid Web hosting, linking it to a final post and Yahoo.

He clarified that his goal was to produce “the most comprehensive illustration of a suicide note in history.” Manley authored the content on the website, which rapidly gained popularity through various social platforms.

OR

He was terrified to face the age-old reason of killing himself. He wrote that none of those issues are relevant to me for the most part of my life… Major reasons adults commit suicide include depression or loneliness, loss of loved ones, financial, legal, or health problems. He simply wanted to leave his own world and make a rational decision to portray the content of his “last minute” as the life he lived. Next, he began to explain his reasons for seeking suicide.

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Many pictures of himself appear on his website, reinforcing the impression of a starving man. On Thursday, he posted a bizarre passage in which he looked for coordinates, like GPS, to a stash of silver and gold coins. He didn’t want to die alone and had no children, but his parents were dead. But he wanted to see that he was less secure and lonelier than he thought. However, it would take hours to read all of them. I haven’t read all of his mundane thoughts, but some of them are profound. On the Manley site, he wrote dozens of separate essays reflecting on his affinity for fedoras, his romantic history, his control over guns, and his reflections on religion.

Manley’s obscure writings on blogs and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have garnered a significant number of page views. However, the transformation of a private suicide note into a public self-memorial raises a disturbing specter in the age of social media. I must acknowledge that publishing such a document on a rationalizing website does not change the fact that those who knew him, and are now grief-stricken, viewed him as an intelligent and thoughtful individual. It is important to refrain from romanticizing his decision to take his own life and withhold judgment.

In a 2003 New Yorker article, writer Tad Friend interviewed several people who survived the leap off the Golden Gate Bridge, interviewing them about individuals who committed suicide by jumping off the bridge. The article found a heartbreaking commonality among these individuals: many of them regretted their decision midair. Manley claimed that suicide is rarely a rational act and that many people who are not in a sound state of mind will take the same risk. It is clear that Manley had the ability and desire to end his own life, as evidenced by his decision to jump off the bridge. However, he wanted to make it known to the world before he died that he desired to say everything he wanted to say.

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Unfortunately, the opposite is more likely. Manley wrote, “In the long run, what I hope will happen is that my life is remembered, and suicide is just a footnote, an asterisk.” We will never know for sure whether that moment when he pulled the trigger changed everything. But it is safe to assume that at least one of his final wishes will go unfulfilled. Publishing on a suicide website was one of Manley’s goals, to assure everyone that he didn’t regret his decision.

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